How Eco-Friendly are Electric Vehicles? It All Depends on the Battery

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — By 2035, every passenger vehicle sold in California must be a zero-emission vehicle.

That means it must run on electricity, hydrogen or another alternative fuel that does not generate air pollution to operate.

The mandate is expected to reduce greenhouse gases in the state by about 35%.

But, while zero-emission vehicles are being touted as one solution to our climate crisis, their batteries could also represent an environmental hazard.

Currently, batteries from first-generation hybrid vehicles are starting to make their way to junkyards.

We visited several auto recyclers in the San Francisco area and found hybrid batteries tossed among other car parts or piled up in a corner. One was dangling from the engine compartment of an old Prius that no longer had a hood and had many parts already pulled out.

Operators did not know what to do with them.

“There are risks associated with these aged batteries or damaged batteries. Lithium-ion batteries that we use in electric vehicles are a fire hazard. It’s important to make sure that these batteries are managed correctly at the end of life,” said Alissa Kendal, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis.

Kendall said the metals in the batteries are hazardous and could leach into the environment if they are not properly handled.

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Energy Bites Seminar May 5, 2022

Thursday, May 5, 2022  |  12pm – 1:00pm PST

Bite 1: UC Davis Fossil Fuel Free Pathway Plan and UC Davis Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Camille Kirk, Office of Sustainability

Bite 2: Hourly Accounting of Carbon Emissions from Electricity Consumption
Greg Miller, Energy Graduate Group

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Energy Bites Seminar April 28, 2022

Thursday, April 28, 2022  |  12pm – 1:00pm PST

Bite 1: Substituting Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles with Plug-In Electric Vehicles: How Does Household’s Vehicle Portfolio Affect Choice of Vehicle Class?
Jean Ji, Energy Graduate Group / Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

Bite 2: How do Cities Approach Sustainability? A Survey on the Importance of Lifecycle Assessment, Equity, and Funding in Local Climate Action
Mark Lozano, Energy Graduate Group

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Energy Bites Seminar April 21, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022  |  12pm – 1:00pm PST

Bite 1: Aerosol Sealing of Occupied Homes Through the Attic
Fred Meyers, Western Cooling Efficiency Center

Bite 2: Energy Savings Potential of a Combined Heat Recovery Ventilator in Winter and Indirect Evaporative Cooler in Summer
Subhrajit Chakraborty, Energy Graduate Group & Western Cooling Efficiency Center

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Energy Bites Seminar April 14, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022  |  12pm – 1:00pm PST

Bite 1: Investigating Electrochemical Metal Intercalation in Future Cathode Materials for Energy Storage Applications
Kabian Ritter, Energy Graduate Group

Bite 2: Floatovoltaics Atop the UC-Davis Arboretum: Improving Water Quality and Expanding Local outreach on Techno-Ecological Synergies
Alex Cagle, Energy Graduate Group

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vector logo with trees and outlines of industrial buildings

2022 Industrial Decarbonization Symposium

On April 25, 2022, UC Davis will host an Industrial Decarbonization Symposium. This in-person event will bring together public and private sector stakeholders to discuss near- and medium-term opportunities for decarbonization of California’s industry. Conversations will explore ways industry, utilities, regulators, and researchers can partner together to advance cost-effective solutions that reduce GHG emissions and increase resiliency and load flexibility. While the focus of this symposium will be on California, the solutions explored will be relevant nationally and internationally.

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female scientist examining water

Leaks an Untapped Opportunity for Water Savings

Before a drop of treated water in California ever reaches a consumer’s faucet, about 8% of it has already been wasted due to leaks in the delivery system. Nationally, the waste is even higher, at 17%. This represents an untapped opportunity for water savings, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. 

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first large-scale assessment of utility-level water loss in the United States. It found that leak reduction by utilities can be the most cost-effective tool in an urban water manager’s toolkit, provided utility-specific approaches are used. 

“When I first heard about ‘leaks’ I thought it sounded boring, but leaks are a huge component of our water systems and have a larger opportunity than many other water-saving methods to make an impact,” said lead author Amanda Rupiper, a postdoctoral scholar with the UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency. “As the first state to regulate its water losses, a lot of eyes are watching California, and this is an opportunity to impact policy here and elsewhere.”

Amid a multiyear drought, the passage of Senate Bill 555 in 2015 made California the first in the nation and among the first in the world to require water utilities to regulate their water losses.

Be Specific

Using data from more than 800 utilities across California, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, the authors characterized water losses across the country. They developed a model to assess the economically efficient level of losses, and used that model to compare various water loss regulations and modeling approaches.

The study found that one-size-fits-all approaches to leak management are not effective, economical or equitable for utilities, which vary in size and resources. Uniform approaches could lead to the mismanagement of urban water losses. However, applying utility-specific performance standards can deliver a similar amount of water savings at a profit for both utilities and society.

“Regulations that impose a uniform standard across all utilities will result in water reductions that are too stringent in some cases, too relaxed in others, and too costly overall,” the paper concludes.

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UC Davis Industrial Decarbonization Symposium 2022

Monday, April 25, 2022
8:30am to 6pm
Conference Center at UC Davis

On April 25, 2022, UC Davis hosted an Industrial Decarbonization Symposium. This in-person event brought together over 150 public and private sector stakeholders to discuss near- and medium-term opportunities for decarbonization of California’s industry. Conversations explored ways industry, utilities, regulators, and researchers can partner together to advance cost-effective solutions that reduce GHG emissions and increase resiliency and load flexibility. While the focus of this symposium was on California, the solutions explored were relevant nationally and internationally.

Agenda

8:30 – 9:00 am

Registration

9:00 – 9:30 am

Welcome and Introduction

Kelly Kissock, Faculty Director, UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute
(Presentation Slides)

9:30 – 10:00 am

Opening Keynote: California’s Role in Industrial Decarbonization

Patty Monahan, Commissioner, California Energy Commission
(Presentation Slides)

10:00 – 10:30 am

Break

10:30 – 11:50 am

Path to Sustainable Manufacturing

Moderator
Eric Masanet, Professor and Mellicamp Chair in Sustainability Science for Emerging Technologies, UC Santa Barbara
(Presentation Slides)

Speakers
Ahmad Ganji, Mechanical Engineering Program Head and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, San Francisco State University
Energy Efficiency & Decarbonization – Experience in Industrial Plants
(Presentation Slides)

Steve Mulqueen, Senior Program Engineer, Cascade Energy
Improving Energy Intensity in the Food, Beverage, and Distributions Sectors: Common Opportunities with Substantial Results
(Presentation Slides)

Ryan Harty, Department Head, Connected and Environmental Business Development, American Honda Motor Company
Decarbonization at Honda. Scope 1-2-3. Easy!

11:50 – 1:00 pm

Networking Lunch

1:00 – 1:15 pm

Afternoon KickOff Keynote

Fabian Bühler, Advisor, Center for Global Cooperation-Danish Energy Agency
Industrial Decarbonization Insights from a European Front Runner
(Presentation Slides)

1:15 – 2:50 pm

Electrification and Load Shaping

Moderator
Mike Marelli, Vice President, Business Customer Division, Southern California Edison

Speakers
Scott Crider, Vice President of Customer Services, San Diego Gas & Electric
Decarbonization Roadmap for California
(Presentation Slides)

Kurt Waldner, Senior Product Manager, Malta Inc
Climate Friendly Industry: Green Heat and Power
(Presentation Slides)

Benjamin Zühlsdorf, Product Manager, Energy and Climate, Danish Technological Institute
Decarbonizing Industrial Process Heating with High-Temperature Heat Pumps – State of the Art, Ongoing Developments and Perspectives
(Presentation Slides)

2:50 – 3:15 pm

Break

3:15 – 4:50 pm

Low Carbon Materials, Fuels and Solutions

Moderator
Dave Vernon, Co-Director of Engineering, UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute and Western Cooling Efficiency Center
(Presentation Slides)

Speakers
Kim Nichum, Chief Technical Officer and Founder, Alpha-E
Using Concentrated Solar Power to Produce Thermal Heat and Clean Water
(Presentation Slides)

Darin Rice, General Manager of Hydrogen Strategy and Market Insights, Chevron
Innovation, Partnership, and Policy for a Successful Energy Transition
(Presentation Slides)

Yuri Freedman, Senior Director of Business Development, SoCalGas
Role of Hydrogen in Industrial Decarbonization
(Presentation Slides)

Alissa Kendall, Professor, UC Davis Civil and Environmental Engineering
Life Cycle Assessment in Decarbonization Strategies
(Presentation Slides)

4:50 – 5:00 pm

Closing and Wrap-up

Kelly Kissock, Faculty Director, UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute

5:00 – 6:00 pm

Happy Hour

Speakers

Scott Crider

Senior Vice President, Customer Services and External Affairs

San Diego Gas and Electric

Yuri Freedman

Senior Director of Busness Development

SoCalGas

Ahmad Ganji

Mechanical Engineering Program Head and Professor of Mechanical Engineering

San Francisco State University

Ryan Harty

Department Head, Connected and Environmental Business Development

American Honda Motor Company

Alissa Kendall

Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering 

UC Davis

Kelly Kissock

Faculty Director

UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute

headshot of Michael Marelli

Michael Marelli

Vice President, Business Customer Division

Southern California Edison

Eric Masanet

Professor and Mellicamp Chair in Sustainability Science for Emerging Technologies

UC Santa Barbara

Patty Monahan

Commissioner

California Energy Commission

Steve Mulqueen

Senior Program Engineer

Cascade Energy

Kim Nichum

Chief Technical Officer and Founder

Alpha-E

Fabian Bühler

 Advisor

Center for Global Cooperation – Danish Energy Agency

Darin Rice

General Manager of Hydrogen Strategy and Market Insights

Chevron

Dave Vernon

Co-Director of Engineering

UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute / Western Cooling Efficiency Center

Kurt Waldner

Senior Product Manager 

Malta Inc. 

Benjamin Zühlsdorf 

Product Manager, Energy and Climate 

Danish Technological Institute 

Logistics

Health & Safety Information

We will be following all UC Davis guidelines regarding COVID-19. We will send specific requirements to all registered attendees. 

Hotel Information

We have a room block at the nearby Hyatt Hotel for Sunday and Monday, April 24th and 25th. Please click here for more information

Symposium Support

We are grateful for the support of our partners.

Questions

If you have any questions about this event or need assistance with your registration, please contact:

Ali Loge
asloge@ucdavis.edu
530-204-8865

Egret standing on solar panels

Floating Solar Panels Could Be the Next Big Thing in Clean Energy

Solar panels can be placed on your roof, on a plot of land, or basically anywhere else where they  are anchored to something solid. That said, there are only so many solid spaces available to install them. To beat climate change, our electricity mix is going to need a lot more renewable energy systems to take over fossil fuels.  Many in the solar industry are looking for a new home for solar panels—possibly even floating on water.

Floating solar farms have been around for over a decade, but water-bound panels became much more prominent in the last few years. The basic idea is to attach solar panels to plastic floats which then drift on a body of water. These floating solar arrays are typically placed on man-made bodies of water—a town’s water reservoir, an irrigation reservoir, a water treatment facility—as to avoid interfering with plant and animal species that live in natural bodies of water. For instance, the United States’ largest floating solar farm sits on a wastewater pond in California and has a nearly five megawatt capacity.

The floating solar industry is expected to grow dramatically over the next decade, but only about two percent of this year’s new solar installations are water-bound.  

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Market Transformation Research Group Publishes Study on Human Factors and Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Classrooms are often under-ventilated, posing risks for airborne disease transmission as schools have reopened amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While technical solutions to ensure adequate air exchange are crucial, this research focuses on teachers’ perceptions and practices that may also have important implications for achieving a safe classroom environment. We report on a (pre- pandemic) survey of 84 teachers across 11 California schools, exploring their perceptions of environmental quality in relation to monitored indoor environmental quality (IEQ) data from their classrooms. Teachers were not educated regarding mechanical ventilation. Errors in HVAC system installation and programming contributed to misunderstandings (because mechanical ventilation was often not performing as it should) and even occasionally made it possible for teachers to turn off the HVAC fan (to reduce noise). Teachers did not accurately perceive (in)sufficient ventilation; in fact, those in classrooms with poorer ventilation were more satisfied with IEQ, likely due to more temperature fluctuations when ventilation rates were higher combined with occupants’ tendency to conflate perceptions of air quality and temperature. We conclude that classroom CO2 monitoring and teacher education are vital to ensure that teachers feel safe in the classroom and empowered to protect the health of themselves and their students.

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